As a student of biology, it has been an eye-opening revelation to me that proper sex education is severely wanting. I believe going through puberty is exciting, as well as a challenging task. Our body grows and so does our mind. We experience changes in our bodies and develop our personalities. As per the CBSE curriculum, students are made aware of these changes through their textbooks. But, barring a few exceptions, teachers skip the portion itself, or just scurry through the pages, hoping to avoid any “embarrassing” questions from the students.
During my primary schooling in the early 2000s, I remember wondering what exactly the human male reproductive organ means. We all know males don’t reproduce, right? Only females give birth. So, what’s the point of a male reproductive organ? It is also quite a rare phenomenon for Indian parents to have the birds and the bees talk with their children. Do we assume that children will just pick it up from other children? I don’t know. Is it irresponsible? Yes. Proper discussion on time will ease a child’s entry to the confusing stage which is puberty.
Reduced awareness is detrimental not only to children but to women as well. Stereotypes such as “women, in general, tend to be moody and very easily irritable” clearly arise due to of lack of awareness. The menstrual cycle leads to several physiological changes in the body, affecting behavior as well. Apart from shedding the endometrial lining of the uterus, it tends to induce mood swings, cramps, irritability, etc. We, as adults, should also be aware of the behavioral changes that occur during PMS and menopause as well. It is not a choice, and it is indeed quite sad that women don’t get days off for this.
The recent case of a senior bureaucrat from Bihar being offended at a woman’s request for subsidized sanitary pads sheds light on the situation. The officer had also added that the woman might start demanding free condoms in the future. Such statements from well-read and experienced members of our society suggest that sex education is indeed lacking.
What I want to highlight is that talk about sex, puberty, STIs, periods, contraceptives, menopause, etc among adults should no longer be taboo in the 21st century. De-tabooing such topics will not only lead to proper sex education for children, making children more comfortable with the changes that follow, reducing instances of unwanted pregnancy and STIs but also increase awareness among the adult population. Understanding and appreciating these differences will help us achieve gender equality.
While having days off during menstruation might be a far-fetched dream for most of us now, it isn’t too late to start spreading awareness and breaking the uneasy silence that surrounds sexual wellness. A lot of free verified online resources such as webmd and mayoclinic have numerous, well-written articles by doctors and other experts in the field. Therefore, I request the readers to discuss such topics amongst themselves, and impart the knowledge to their children on time, so that they may be ready for the changes to come.